To grasp the latest physics breakthrough, think of sumo wrestlers and barracudas

Other particles interact much less, like a barracuda, which can dart through water very quickly. These streamlined fish are analogous to particles with very low mass.

Higgs and Englert's ideas lay unconfirmed for nearly 50 years, until 2012, when scientists proved that they were correct. If the Higgs field was real, then a particle called the Higgs boson was predicted to exist. And indeed, this particle was discovered using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's most powerful atom smasher located at the CERN laboratory in Europe. For their successful prediction, Higgs and Englert shared the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics.

But Monday's announcement isn't about the Higgs boson itself, it's about seeing the Higgs boson interact with the heaviest known denizen of the subatomic world. The most massive fundamental subatomic particle known is the top quark, discovered in 1995 at Fermilab, located outside Chicago. The top quark is unstable and can only be created and studied inside powerful particle accelerators.

The universe is out of balance and nobody knows why

Because the Higgs boson gives particles mass, it interacts most strongly with top quarks. And, because of the strength of this interaction, the results reported Monday are an ideal laboratory in which to study the detailed nature of the origins of mass.

While the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012 and subsequent measurements suggest that Higgs and Englert's ideas published in 1964 were largely correct, there remain many mysteries in our understanding of the way the mass is generated.

The first is that their theory predicts a mass for the Higgs boson that is in striking disagreement with the value we currently measure. While scientists don't have an answer for that embarrassing prediction, it is expected that studying how Higgs bosons and top quarks interact could give some important clues to answering the question.

Another mystery stems from the fact that the Higgs theory doesn't arise from a deeper and more underlying theory. It's simply a band-aid added to the theoretical edifice. This has long been known and is intellectually discomfiting. Studying the very strong interaction between Higgs bosons and the ultra-heavy top quarks could provide hints on what is going on.

Because the Higgs boson interacts most strongly with the top quark, measurements like the ones announced Monday have the potential to answer these mysteries. And, of course, particle physics is an exploratory and discovery-focused field of science. The high energy collisions like the ones reported today are prime candidates for possible discoveries of unexpected phenomena -- after all, the LHC is an instrument of scientific exploration.

The first two measurements were difficult and barely possible when they were announced, but are now relatively straightforward. Monday's measurement is a difficult one, both because of its rarity and the complexity of the data, but it, too, will eventually become common.

The Large Hadron Collider is the largest and most powerful tool for studying the laws of nature ever built. It is performing breathtakingly well and it's just getting started. At the end of this year, scientists will have collected only about 3% of the data that is expected over the lifetime of the facility. At the end of 2018, the LHC will shut down for two years for refurbishment and upgrades and then return with a vengeance, running through 2030 and making who knows what kind of discoveries. I am looking forward to seeing what else we uncover.

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